Focus on Water Efficiency
CyrusOne’s focus on water efficiency allows us to reduce the environmental impact of our data centers and improve their resilience. Traditionally, data centers have utilized cooling systems that evaporate water, removing millions of gallons of water from the watershed and discharging wastewater with highly concentrated contaminants to the local treatment system. But CyrusOne takes a different approach. Our new data centers are designed to avoid dependence on water for cooling, providing increased resilience and reducing impacts to the communities and habitats where we operate. Avoiding water-based cooling can result in a somewhat higher design PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness, a common metric used to measure data center efficiency) than could be achieved by “burning” water instead of electricity, but it allows us to prepare for the future and mitigate the impacts data centers have on regional water supplies. Combined with our transition to carbon-free energy our facilities are designed to neither consume large amounts of water nor emit large amounts of carbon. Three foundations drive our focus on water efficiency:
In many data centers, water is consumed for cooling purposes, replacing electricity or other energy sources. Most of our facilities use zero-water cooling, and we have begun to restore water to local ecosystems through BEF Water Restoration Certificates® (WRCs), making our presence a net benefit to the watersheds where we operate.
Our target for water conservation is not to simply do “less bad” but to do “more good” and leave regions better than if we were never there. With this in mind, we have set a target to make all of our facilities that are in high water stress regions into net positive water facilities.
The Transparency of Water
Data centers are essential for the digital economy, but they also can consume a lot of water. The availability of water consumption data in the data center industry is scant, but CyrusOne leads the way, reporting water consumption with a sophisticated array of metrics, such as water consumption by regional water stress, Water Usage Effectiveness (WUE) at our sites, and even WUE that includes the water from the energy supply chain. We hope this transparency to our water impacts will provide an example that others can follow on this important topic.